Indians sending entire tennis team to state

By Grant Guggisberg

It’s been a long time since the Manhattan High boys’ tennis team sent all six varsity players to the Class 6A state tournament.

After a solid day at regional tennis in Topeka, the Indians will do just that after a second-place team finish behind host Washburn Rural at Saturday’s regional.

Sophomore Kirkland Lambert went undefeated on the day to win the singles championship, while the top doubles pair of Jonathan Turnley and Bryce Easton finished in second place.

Camden Adams took fifth place in singles to advance to state, while the doubles pair of Ben Turnley and Matt Turnley took sixth place to secure a spot at state.

Manhattan head coach Joyce Allen said the last time she can remember the Indians sending everyone to state was in 2003, her last year as both the girls’ and boys’ coach.

“It was my last year with the boys,” she said. “So I feel pretty good. That was my last year, this is my first year back. That was fun. I’m pretty sure they haven’t done it since, but I don’t know.”

Lambert came back in the tournament final over Washburn Rural’s Matt Murray in a super tiebreaker because of weather concerns, 1-6, 6-2 (10-6). After a slow start, he flipped the script on Murray and cruised to the championship.

“He had a rough go,” Allen said. “He was double-faulting and over-hitting and finally he found his groove, and then he was on a tear. It was a good match.”

Jonathan Turnley and Easton ended up falling short in its most recent shot at Rural’s Reid and Nathan Osborn, this time falling 6-3, 6-2 to take second place. The pair worked hard for the chance after a three-set match against Derby’s Luke Palmer and Justin Briles, winning 6-3, 0-6, 6-2 to make it to the finals.

“In both the close match with Derby and the final with Rural, we were in every one of those games,” Allen said. “We just couldn’t win the big game against Rural.”

In singles, Adams lost to Rural’s Tanner Driggers in the quarterfinals, but came back to beat Topeka High’s Michael Joens, 6-2, 6-1, before defeating Derby’s Micah Dunn in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0, to finish off his day in fifth place.

“He did a really good job,” Allen said. “We were worried about where he’d land in the draw, and it turned out it was a good place for him. He had a good day.”

Matt Turnley and Ben Turnley also had a good day, rebounding from a loss to Derby’s Palmer and Briles, 6-3, 6-2, to beat Junction City’s Dave Graham and Neil Glaser, 6-4, 6-3, to guarantee at least sixth place and a trip to state. The pair lost to Topeka High’s Davis Gernon and Chris Gernon in the fifth-place match in a super tiebreaker, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3), (10-4).

“The match between the Turnleys and Topeka High was a really good match,” Allen said. “They played really well.”

Allen said getting everyone through to the state tournament made for an enjoyable afternoon.

“They were all so excited,” she said. “It’s special, and they’re special kids. It was really a fun day. We had some close matches.”

The group now has this week to prepare for the state tournament, which begins on Friday in Wichita.

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